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Visitor reviews for Niseko Hirafu Ski Resort
February 07, 2017
powder rat from Australia
2016/17 season has been the worst season since 2003. The snow has just not come this year. However, huge crowds of skiers/boarders have. The bowls and areas out the gates have only had good bottomless powder on a maximum of 10 days this season and it has been getting tracked out by the massive number of skiers and boarders in record time. Niseko without regular large snowfall becomes a small, crowded hill with heavily trampled snow. If this season (and last season for that matter) is anything to go on the place is massively over-rated. There are heaps better places to ride powder consistently and without the huge crowds. Paradise spoilt by greedy property developers and tour operators....look elsewhere.
Niseko Hirafu Ratings
Overall: 4.0. Based on 45 votes and 100 reviews. Vote
(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Niseko Hirafu.
Public Transport: 4.4
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Niseko Hirafu, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Niseko Hirafu, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 3.9
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 4.5
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Niseko Hirafu.
Ski in/Ski out: 4.4
(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Niseko Hirafu, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Niseko Hirafu is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Niseko Hirafu relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 4.2
(1) There are no snow groomers at Niseko Hirafu, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Niseko Hirafu are groomed daily.
(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Niseko Hirafu is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 3.6
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Niseko Hirafu, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.
Regional rating: 4.6
(1) Niseko Hirafu usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.
Lift Staff: 4.7
(1) The staff at Niseko Hirafu are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Niseko Hirafu are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.
Ski Schools: 4.6
(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.
Hire and Repairs: 4.7
(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.
Variety of pistes: 4.4
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Niseko Hirafu has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Niseko Hirafu, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.
Snow Park: 3.9
(1) Not even a kicker at Niseko Hirafu, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Niseko Hirafu, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Niseko Hirafu has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 4.3
(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.
(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.
(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.
Other Sports: 3.1
(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.
(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.
Winter Walks: 3.1
(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.
Ski Pass Value: 4.3
(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.
Value (National): 4.1
(1) Overall, Niseko Hirafu is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.
Value (Global): 4.3
(1) Overall, Niseko Hirafu is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.
April 05, 2016
Graham from Japan
Niseko area has amazing snowfall during winter and is a great place. The spring park, however, is a huge let down.
A resort that gets so many skier visits during peak season should be able to build and fund a decent park and keep up with the times. If small mountains in the U.S, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can build parks with progressive jumps and a variety of features surely they can do this in Hirafu.
February 20, 2016
kaktus from Austria
I had never seen an older ski lift than in Niseko in my whole life. I am over 50 years old and have skied most of the main resorts in the Alpes, Canada and I have been to Georgia in the Kaukasus Region. This was quite a surprise. Snow was good but not so exceptional that I would wait in line for a short lift ride again.
January 25, 2016
Spencer from Japan
The snowfall data is not accurate in any way, shape, or form. Snow-forecast has not projected more than ~8cm in any one time box in the time I've been here (Jan 14-25) but it has snowed at the very least 1 m since then (very conservative estimate). At least it's inaccurate in the good way, as in it snows much more than projected on this site. The temperature is pretty good, but the snowfall has been way off.
[note from the editor: thank you for providing feedback on weather conditions at this ski area. Do use a weather reporting facility on the site, for future submissions, instead of Resort Reviews.]
January 22, 2016
Mark from Australia
Been coming here for the last 12 years; fantastic place and yes, Aussie bogans and a few other cultures like the Scandinavians, who disregard rules and culture, are the main drawbacks. For all the other complainers re no night life, no doctors, no chemists, please do us all a favour and please, please stay away and go find other places with what you want. Kampai!
February 17, 2015
Geoff from Canada
Just got back from a fantastic week at Niseko. 60cm on the first day and a couple 30cm days afterwards. It never stopped snowing! Cloudy skies throughout, but as one of the locals put it, "we don't get this much snow with blue bird skies"! Wind was our only trouble which closed the top lifts a couple times. We'll definitely head back!
February 15, 2015
Jason from Japan
Hirafu is an awesome resort town. If you're looking for something to do aside from hitting the slopes, look elsewhere. As with most of Japan, it is a powder paradise, only here you are allowed off-piste. Some of the resorts on the main island of Honshu are just starting that with the recent popularity boom of back country in Japan. Niseko is the best place I have ever ridden so far.
December 28, 2014
Brian Lloyd from Japan
Just wondering is the snowfall predictions in cm is that in total or per hour. What we have found is that if it is in total then it is usually way out so we are guessing it is per hour. Can anyone confirm this
March 04, 2014
david from Australia
Totally agree with another reviewer. Damage to cars and leaving rubbish in the streets is an insult to our courteous hosts. We Australians need to behave or stay home.
February 25, 2014
Toni from Australia
I love Niseko and have visited a couple of times. The only negative I have was in 2013 I got quite ill and there is no doctor or medical centre or chemist in the resort. The closest doctor is in Kutchen, a short bus trip away. This is a nightmare after experiencing being so sick. As someone who travels overseas to ski each year this is the only thing that would stop me coming back to Niseko either for myself or with a family. There needs to be a medical centre and doctor in the resort to make it a perfect ski destination.